Does Your Book Really Need A Prologue Or Epilogue? | Writer’s Relief


Epilogues and beginnings do not always get the very best raps, and for good reason– they can be tricky to compose. And even though you might be convinced that the details in your books prologue or epilogue are crucial to the story, some readers avoid them totally. At Writers Relief, we know that determining whether a book actually requires a beginning or epilogue can be among the harder choices novelists should make. Heres some guidance on how to make the very best option for your book!

Should You Have A Prologue Or Epilogue In Your Book?

What You Need To Know About Prologues

Bear in mind that the opening pages are perhaps the most important ones in a book– particularly when querying literary agents who are often too hectic to find out more than the very first few pages before deciding if they d like to request your manuscript.

A beginning, or short area prior to your first chapter, typically serves to offer background details for the reader. Generally it happens prior to the main action of your story begins. Prologues are fantastic tools when needed, however if you dont genuinely require a prologue, consider that it might backfire by making your book appear sluggish to start.

To figure out if you truly need a beginning, ask yourself these concerns:

Can the prologue produce a sense of mystery? If you have a beginning, it ought to convince the audience to learn more of your book. Consider using one if a prologue will help you present or create an appealing scenario thriller in a way you could not do otherwise!

Do you have crucial background information to share? Did a major event work as the catalyst for your story that readers will need to understand? Do you have a character whos essential to your text, but whose function in the story happened substantially earlier than the start of the novel, and thus cant be seen or kept in mind from your eventual lead characters viewpoint? If either of these things is true for you, and this person or occasion requires to be presented prior to your story begins, a beginning can be the very best way to manage these scenarios.

Is your first chapter as strong? Writers frequently try to produce an action-packed, attention-grabbing beginning to make up for the truth that their first chapter is slow-moving. You may want to make the information in your beginning part of your very first chapter if this is the case.

How To Write A Prologue That Grabs Attention

Do not info-dump in your prologue. In a dream or sci-fi novel with tons of background and world-building details, you might be tempted to use your beginning as a SparkNotes-esque summary of these basics– but this can be a big turnoff for editors, agents, and readers. If theyre bored or confused, readers may avoid the prologue altogether. Only utilize your prologue to introduce the most crucial details!

Make your prologue mentally resonant. While one objective of a beginning is to offer readers with the context and background information they require, you also wish to make certain they leave totally invested and all set to turn the page and start reading chapter one. Instantly developing an emotional connection through strong writing will entice your audience to continue reading.

At Writers Relief, weve seen beginnings that vary from a few sentences to a couple of chapters. Theres no mandatory guideline, a prologue ought to usually be no more than the length of a normal chapter– and shorter is definitely better.

Produce a prologue that stands apart from your first chapter. Your prologue and first chapter should not feel exactly the exact same. What does your story need that just a beginning can supply? Perhaps your beginning needs to be written from a various characters perspective, or occur prior to the primary action of your story– whether thats a couple of days, a couple of months, or even a couple of years.

What You Need To Know About Epilogues

An epilogue is the opposite of a beginning– it comes after your final chapter and serves to supply closure and resolution to your story. The epilogue explains what takes place to your characters after the main body of your book.

Much like prologues, epilogues arent always essential– and including one might spoil a great story that ought to have ended faster.

To determine if you really require an epilogue, ask yourself these concerns:

Will readers wish to “follow up” on your characters? Simply as a beginning can reveal an event that took place long in the past your storys time, an epilogue can show readers where your characters wind up. You can let readers understand that the lovers relationship makes it through and they later get married, or that a character in peril eventually lives a long, pleased life.

Do you have a great deal of loose ends to bind? We usually advise writers do not attempt to manage too secondary characters and many subplots, some books can do this well– and an epilogue can be utilized to tie up any loose ends in these pertinent threads. In a multi-POV novel, an epilogue may help finish up the story in a manner your last chapter could not.

Will your book have a sequel? An epilogue can be an excellent tool to hook readers into the next book in your series. You can utilize your epilogue to plant tips about the plot to come in Book Two if the primary plot of Book One is covered up in your last chapter!

How To Write An Epilogue That Satisfies Your Readers

Dont repeat your books themes and messages. While books can be powerful tools for teaching lessons, no one wishes to be hit over the head with the storys moral. If youve discreetly– however successfully– woven a message into your book, theres no requirement to rehash the same lesson in your epilogue.

Consider a jump forward in time. A commonly utilized technique with epilogues is to take readers a few years into the future to give them a concept of how your characters lives end up. Perhaps readers would be happy to discover out that your intense warrior character settles to raise sheep on a peaceful farm, or that the shy, geeky character goes on to run a giant tech business.

Dont make your ending too tidy. While ending a book on a cliffhanger is never an excellent concept, a best, happily-ever-after ending can likewise be unfulfilling for readers if theyre left with unlimited questions. Composing an excellent epilogue is all about striking a balance: answer the significant questions, but do not fill out every detail. Give some overall direction and let your readers imaginations fill in the spaces.

Our Most Important Tips For Prologues OR Epilogues

Required assistance? Have a look at the Writers Relief blog site! Our blog site is chock-full of short articles about composing, grammar, making reliable submissions, and getting released

While they should connect in to the general story of your book, the beginning or epilogue should not check out like a run-through– or like simply another chapter. You desire readers to be invested in what occurs in your prologue or epilogue the exact same method you want them to be invested in your book as a whole.


You do not constantly require both a beginning and an epilogue. Lots of authors think that if their book has a beginning, it needs to be stabilized with an epilogue, or vice versa.

Keep your tone constant. Readers will discover it unsatisfactory and disconcerting if your prologue or epilogue does not feel like a natural part of your story. Make your narrative voice consistent on every page of your book!

Concern: Which do you prefer as a reader, beginnings or epilogues?

While they must tie in to the total story of your book, the beginning or epilogue shouldnt read like a summary– or like just another chapter. You want readers to be invested in what happens in your prologue or epilogue the same way you desire them to be invested in your book as a whole.

And even though you may be encouraged that the information in your books beginning or epilogue are essential to the story, some readers avoid them entirely. At Writers Relief, we understand that identifying whether a book really requires a prologue or epilogue can be one of the more difficult choices novelists need to make. Beginnings are terrific tools when required, however if you dont truly need a beginning, think about that it might backfire by making your book appear slow to begin.

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